In the Sri Bhashya, his commentary on the Brahma Sutras, Ramanujacharya rejects "yoga pratyaksha" (yogic perception) as a pramana:

(Paraphrased by me for readability)

Perception is of two kinds: sensual and yogic.

Sensual perception is again of two kinds: With the five external sense organs and the mind. The five external sense organs experience external objects it makes contact with, and the mind experiences feelings such as happiness and sadness, and cannot experience external objects. This kind of perception is incapable of knowing Brahman.

Yogic perception is also not a valid pramana to know Brahman. This is because yogic perception is nothing more than a vivid imagination of what was previously perceived. Therefore, it cannot provide any new knowledge about the world, and if it does, then it is a delusion.

So, apparently yogic perception is just intensely remembering something that one previously saw. For example, if one saw a bear in the forest, then intensely remembering it in meditation is considered "yoga pratyaksha".

However, later on in the Sri Bhashya, he says that Rishis did tapas to receive revelations of Vedic mantras in the form of visions:


After Prajapati creates Rishis with special powers, they perform intense tapas and finally see the mantras just as they were revealed to Rishis like Vashishta in previous kalpas, perfect in all their sounds and accents, without having learned them from the recitation of a teacher.

I checked the Sri Bhashya in Sanskrit, and it says:

तपस्तप्त्वा ... पश्यन्ति

After doing tapas... they see (the mantras)

So mantra revelation has to be some kind of pratyaksha, and there is no way it can be sensual perception, so it would have to be yoga pratyaksha since the mantras are revealed during meditation.

Moreover, the Sri Vaishnava tradition records that Nathamuni wrote a text called the Yoga Rahasya that describes how to obtain realization of Vishnu through meditation.

And then we have many statements in the smriti and shruti about how the Yogi experiences Brahman in their own heart, etc.

I think it's possible that Ramanujacharya is just saying this to convince Mimamsa people and beginner readers of the Sri Bhashya to believe in the Upanishads for now to know Brahman, rather than relying on other things that may not work. And then later on, they would be slowly introduced to concepts like bhagavad-sakshat-kara.

But I want to know what the traditional view is about this.

  • 1
    if yogic perception is an intense memory of an elephant i saw 10 years ago, and recalling of an elephant i saw yesterday is regular memory, there is no need to create an artificial distinction between the two - since the difference is only in degree, not in kind. either the english translations are off, or the words pratyaksha and yoga are used loosely without concrete definitions.
    – ram
    Jul 1, 2022 at 17:20
  • @mar Right. Maybe it's explained in the shruta prakashika or MA Alwar's sri bhashya lecture on youtube.
    – Ikshvaku
    Jul 3, 2022 at 14:44


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